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ASUS STRIX TACTIC PRO Mechanical Keyboard Review: Cherry MX Brown and Premium Design

Subject: General Tech
Manufacturer: ASUS

Introduction

The ASUS STRIX TACTIC PRO is a premium mechanical gaming keyboard featuring Cherry MX Brown switches and some serious style.

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Keyboards are a very personal thing, and as this is one of the three primary interfaces with the system itself (along with the mouse and display), feel will help decide the experience. Without a doubt mechanical keyboard have become very popular with enthusiasts, but as more manufacturers have started offering them - and the market has begun to saturate - it becomes much more difficult to pick a starting point if you're new to the game. To further complicate a buying decision there are different types of key switches used in these keyboards, and each variety has its own properties and unique feel.

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And on the subject of key switches, this particular keyboard built with the brown variety of the Cherry MX switches, and ASUS offers the option of Cherry MX Black, Blue, and Red switches with the STRIX TACTIC PRO as well. Our own Scott Michaud covered the topic of key switches in great detail last year, and that article is a great starting point that helps explain the different types of switches available, and how they differ.

Cherry MX Brown

The Cherry MX Brown switch in action

I'll go into the feel of the keyboard on the next page, but quickly I'll say that MX Brown switches have a good feel without being too "clicky", but they are certainly more stiff feeling than a typical membrane keyboard. While it's impossible to really describe how the keyboard will feel to a particular user, we can certainly cover the features and performance of this keyboard to help with a purchasing decision in this crowded market. At $150 the STRIX TACTIC PRO carries a premium price, but as you'll see this is also a premium product.

Continue reading our review of the STRIX TACTIC PRO mechanical gaming keyboard!!

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First, let's check out the specs:


Specifications

Connector: Single gold-plated USB
Anti-ghosting: True NKRO (6KRO switch included)
Switches: Fully mechanical Cherry MX type
Switch lifecycle: 50-million keystrokes
Backlit: Individually-backlit (orange) keys with 4-level settings
Cable: Braided fiber 1.8m
Key cap material: Tough ABS
Media keys: Volume control, play/pause, previous track and next track
Macro keys: Up to 21 customizable keys (13 dedicated macro keys + 8 switchable macro/function (F1-F8) keys)
Special features:
- On-the-fly macro recording
- Dual modes: plug-and-play hardware mode and software mode
- Gaming mode (disables Windows® key); Macro mode (reassigns F1-F8 as macro keys)


Our thanks to ASUS for providing the keyboard for this review!

Next we'll take a quick look at the packaging and contents for the STRIX TACTIC PRO.

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The keyboard is well protected in the box

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Add some very orange color with these replacement key caps

The design of this keyboard is quite different, and I found myself liking it quite a bit right out of the box. There is a sharpness to it that really stands out, and ASUS has put some serious personality of what is usually a very boring part of the PC experience. It screams gaming, and I must comply!

First Impressions

As impossible as it might be to explain how a device feels using text alone, I will give it a shot anyway. The first thing you'll probably notice when taking this out of the box is how sturdy (and hefty) this feels, and there is no creakiness to the plastic even if you try flexing it. The weight allows it to sit firmly down on its rubber feet for a nice, stable foundation. The keycaps are slightly concave and have just a bit more shine to the ABS plastic than the body of the keyboard, which has a matte finish that looks great in person.

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Next we'll look at some of the features of the STRIX TACTIC PRO, and I'll go over my experience after using the keyboard for a couple of weeks.

Video News


February 19, 2015 | 05:52 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

This keyboard, this one will replace the stupidly-dying LED nightmare that is the Corsair K95, besides the fact that the K95 only came in MX Reds, much prefer the Browns for typing all day. I don't game much, mostly use software and type with my keyboard but having complex shortcuts on macro keys is very addictive. I was on the fence when I saw only 10 dedicated macro keys on the side, but seeing those 3 below the space bar... ohh, this keyboard is very close to what I would describe as the perfect keyboard.

I just wished the LEDs were white or a more neutral color than orange and the shape is a bit gaudy, but I praise function over form. Thank you PCPER for letting me know this keyboard exists. I can't wait to replace that god-damn K95.

February 20, 2015 | 02:43 PM - Posted by fkr

I have literally had that k95 in my amazon cart for weeks and I just cannot pull the trigger b/c of the led problem.

I use a k60 now and love it for everything it is worth but my latenight drunken gaming I need some led's.

I do wish I could get the while led's as that is what the k95 offers.

I like my brushed aluminum look and feel but I am not attached to looks.

the biggest thing for me is that volume control bar. afdter having one on the k60 I do not want any other volume control as my keyboard sits slightly under my desk and that makes it so easy to turn down the volume when needed. any kind of turn knob or volume button just will not work and at the price I am paying for a keyboard I want what I want.

also the k95 has to many macros keys for me and this is perfect.

I am buying one as soon as I find it for sale. I will use the pcp'r amazon link when I do. :)

February 20, 2015 | 05:24 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Save yourself the hassle. The K95 is really not worth its price with all the dead LEDs, period. Such a stupid and glaring problem for what is essentially a nice keyboard.

February 20, 2015 | 10:12 PM - Posted by Phreedom The Gamer (not verified)

Wait. ASUS knows exactly what they are doing with the color. They put out a keyboard that is high quality, popular, wanted...but with orange lights. So people who want it will go, "Well I don't like the orange lights but I'll get it anyway". Then the next revision will have white, blue, red or RGB lighting and not only will that model bring new buyers but repeat buyers as well who will sell their old orange one.

February 19, 2015 | 06:53 PM - Posted by Master Chen (not verified)

NOPE. (c) Roccat Ryos-god

February 19, 2015 | 11:52 PM - Posted by BSODenthusiast (not verified)

Unless you can't assign a key to specific action, you really don't need macro keys. Hey, I bet you didn't use some of the keys (with or without combinations) in your app/ game right? Sure, dedicated macro keys are easier to remember and start with but it can be replaced by key assignments.

Anyway, keyboards have many strange shapes lately. Some good, some cheesy. Personally I like it simple, clean and having good quality materials. LEDs are just a side plus.

Agreeable dimensions are good psychologically.
My monitor is square, I like my keyboard to be square.

February 20, 2015 | 10:22 AM - Posted by Phantasia (not verified)

I have this keyboard with Cherry Blue keys.

It's great!

But after trying Linux on my main machine, I noticed something very strange. Key combinations are not working at all. ctrl-c, ctrl-v etc. Simply do not work...

If you grab a Live CD from any distro, you should be able to replicate this.
It would be interesting what Asus has to say about this. :)

February 20, 2015 | 02:48 PM - Posted by fkr

I wanted to add that this keyboard does come with a choice of black, blue, brown, or red Cherry MX switches.

this comes per the asus website

http://www.asus.com/us/Gaming/STRIX_TACTIC_PRO/

February 27, 2015 | 11:55 AM - Posted by Sebastian Peak

Thanks, and I added this information to the review. I should have noticed since the different options are listed right there on the front of the box!

February 24, 2015 | 01:58 PM - Posted by Phantasia (not verified)

Well this is a bit of a shame...

Contacted Asus about the ctrl-c, ctrl-v combinations not working on Linux...
They advised me to install the latest windows drivers... And that they are not sure if the keyboard is not supported in Linux due to the non existence of drivers.

If I was complaining about the NKRO, Profiles, Macros, etc I could understand that... But I'm talking about basic stuff that should be common in any keyboard at all...

October 17, 2015 | 10:02 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

I had the same problem in the BIOS and multiple Linux ditros. ASUS has issue a Firmware that fixes the issue.

June 13, 2016 | 03:00 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Hello, does anyone has problem with the spacebar i.e. double spacing or sometime doesnt detect at all?

June 28, 2016 | 01:02 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

same here double letters and double space problem
I will never buy asus keyboard lesson learned here

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